While preparing for study abroad, it is essential to consider the financial aspects of the experience. To properly prepare and create your study abroad budget, it is important to plan ahead and follow the below simple, two main steps. 


Know Before You Go

Understand the cost for study abroad and what your billable to GW and non-billable, or personal, expenses will be when preparing for your travel.

Cost of Study Abroad


Calculate Your Needs

Use our budget calculator template to help estimate your overall expenses, considering cost of living differences, and develop your budget.

Budget Calculator


Tips and Recommendations for Budgeting
for Non-Billable Expenses

Plan Ahead!

Consider what types of things or activities you will be spending your money on prior to departing for program as well as the method you will use for spending money abroad. Be sure to be as specific as possible. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What is the average cost of a roundtrip flight from your host destination? Are you planning to arrive early or stay late to do personal travel?
  • What personal travel would you like to do? Where to? How far? Would you travel by bus, train, or plane? What accommodations would you get within that location? Is the cost of living different than in your host city? 
  • How will you get your meals? Are any meals included in your program? How often would you want to eat meals out? What are the average costs of groceries? How many meals do you typically eat a day? 
  • How will you get around your host city? Are your accommodations close enough to walk to school/activities? Will you be receiving any kind of transportation pass as part of your program? How often do you plan to use public transportation per week or per month?
  • What do you plan on using your spending money on? Are you more interested in museums and tours that may have entry fees? Or do you plan to do any shopping or collect any items? 
  • What items should you pack with you abroad versus buy upon arrival? Toiletries, perhaps? What is the average cost of these items?
  • What do you consider essential or must-have/do? What do you want to prioritize doing or buying while abroad?
  • What type of credit card do you use? What are the fees for ATMs or transactions? 

Understand what your Program Includes

Research your program and know what is covered within your billable costs (GW Tuition and Tier fee) - anything covered you will not need to separately budget for. Adjust your personal expenses based on what your program includes. For example, if your program includes a lot of pre-planned all-inclusive excursions, consider planning fewer personal travel experiences. Likewise, if your program includes meals, take advantage of this and plan for less meals eaten out. Make sure to pay close attention within your program's literature as to what is optional and what is required. Optional or premium amenities are not included in the tier fee, some examples to look for may include:

  • Optional excursions or cultural activities
  • Upgraded housing or meal plans (i.e. single apartments) 
  • Books or supplies (sometimes included)

Research and know exchange rates and cost of living

Every country has a different monetary system. Make sure you know and factor in exchange rates and cost of living when budgeting for your time abroad. Don't let yourself be fooled by a seemingly small looking number on a price tag - always consider what the cost is in your own currency. We recommend the following apps and websites you can download or bookmark to help keep you in the know: 

Track your spending

Track your expenses while you are abroad to keep your spending in check. You can easily track yourself using an app! There are a number of easy to use apps that can make budgeting a breeze:

  • Mint
  • Trail Wallet
  • Spent 
  • Tripcoin 
  • Trabee Pocket 
  • Splitwise

Find the Deal!

When it comes to how to find the deal, we have two main pieces of advice: 1) live like a local and 2) use being a student to your advantage!

Living like a local can help you stay on budget and not overspend as you will not be falling for expensive tourist traps or trying to eat imported foods when you can live cheap off of the local delicacies!

Additionally, the benefit of being a student is getting to capitalize on all the great student discounts! Use this to your advantage while abroad and never not ask somewhere if they offer a student discount! For additional support on traveling and studying abroad on a budget, check out some of these resources: